It’s probably for the best that a game centred around using bombs and exploding vehicles to destroy historic London monuments wasn’t released during last month's 2012 Olympic celebrations.
Still, with the Paralympics underway as I write this it feels a little amoral to be sending a car flying into a tube tunnel and waiting for the sound of terrible subway honk and inevitable crash (followed by smoke drifting out of the station).
Perhaps I’m being a little too sensitive. This sequel to the so-so Traffic Panic 3D is undeniably a blast to play in small doses – especially now you’re given Tap Bombs to cause virtual carnage with.London Calling
As with Neon Play’s previous title, the goal of the sequel is to simply try and get as much traffic from one side of a busy junction to the other.
Thwarting its safe passage is a steady stream of vehicles continually crossing the same junction from west to east.
The gameplay is a matter of precise timing, with your control limited to turning a sole traffic light from green to red by tapping anywhere on the screen. The more cars, lorries, vans, and motorbikes you can sneak through with deft switches of the light the higher you score.
There’s a little more too it than that, of course. For a start, causing eye-watering crashes earns you bonus points. You also get a limited supply of Tap Bombs that cause a mini-explosion wherever you press on the scene
This enables you to set up long chains of explosions or cause dramatic environmental damage, such as sending the Millennium Wheel careening down a gridlocked street.
Your two scores are then combined to supply you with in-game Credits to unlock new London locales and additional vehicles that each have their own distinct perks, like emergency vehicles that force the opposing traffic to stop.Tourist traps
It’s surprisingly addictive to see how long you can survive. And by replaying levels you can unlock a lot of extra vehicles to help boost your score without spending a solitary real-world penny.
Unfortunately, the score goals for unlocking new locations – from Nelson’s Column to Big Ben and the Millennium Wheel – are unrealistically high, so expect to fork out a couple of quid if you want to see them all.
But most players will lose interest when the bombs run out. The game loses a lot of its volatile appeal when they’re gone and you can’t buy them with Credits - only increasingly costly in-app purchases.
And, while Traffic Panic London makes a lot of its tourist trap setting and thrilling explosions, the bizarre lack of leaderboads (either online or off) means that the novelty soon wears off.